Saturday, June 23, 2012

Burns


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By Diane Forrest, RN

Curling irons for your hair are a dangerous tool.  I have been burned many times with mine.  I will be rolling my hair, then for some reason I drop it and it falls right on my face, or I may put it a little too close to my forehead, and scorch my skin.  The first thing I do is remove it quickly.  Mainly because it hurts!  They normally don’t require any treatment, but I will put a cold wet washcloth on the area to stop the burning process.  It will heal in about a week or two, and I may apply a bacterial ointment to the area, depending on how bad the burn is.

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My husband was not at fortunate.  After his accident he was numb from the waist down.  He accidently spilled a cup of hot coffee on his lap, and I was not aware.  We were in the process of moving, and I guess he didn't want to bother me.  The trouble was, he didn't remove the clothes, so the heat stayed, and continued to burn him.  This resulted in a large 2nd to 3rd degree burn that required multiple dressing changes every day, plus the application of silvadene ointment, a powerful prescription strength cream that aids in the healing of burns. Care must be used in applying this cream, because it will discolor clothes or other materials that comes in contact with it.  Dressings must be sterile as well because infection can enter the area very quickly.

A burn is an injury to the flesh that is caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, light, radiation or friction. Most burns affect only the skin, and very rarely the bones, muscles tissues or blood vessels. Most burns can be treated with first aid, and don't require emergency treatment, however for more serious burns patients may be transported to a specialized burn unit.

Burns are categorized as first, second, third or fourth degree, with the 4th being the most severe and involves deep tissue, muscle and maybe even bone. Treatment for fourth degree burns is normally amputation.

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Third degree burns go through the entire layer of skin, and is usually painless because the nerve endings are destroyed. Possible amputation with this type of burn may also occur.

Second degree burns involve the first layers of skin. Area is red, and blisters form, may cause infections and is very painful as the nerve endings are affected. These burns usually take 2 to 3 weeks to heal.

First degree burns are the most common. These involve the first layer of the skin, causing redness and takes about a week to heal and during that time you will notice the skin starting to peel. The most common type of first degree burn is the sunburn, which is the focus of today's article.

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Now that summer is here, more and more folks are heading out side. They are going to beaches, lakes, pools, on picnics and trips to the zoo, spending more time in the sun after being cooped up all winter long. Sunlight is very beneficial to us. Not only is it a great source of Vitamin D, which is most known to regulate calcium levels and absorption. It is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. Also important for healthy immune function, nervous function and for insulin/blood sugar regulation, numerous endocrine and digestive functions, vitamin D is a necessary component for good health. The sun also benefits us by regulating our biorhythm cycles allowing us to have a better, deeper night’s sleep, and it increases our detoxification and purification systems.

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However, too much of a good thing can also be bad for you. Not only does overexposure to the sun cause the skin to burn, it can also cause skin cancer. To avoid this from happening, here are some precautions to take:
Use a high rated Sun protectant factor (SPF) sun block.
Apply sun block 15 to 30 minutes before exposure, then again after 30 minutes of exposure.
Reapply sun block after swimming or excessive sweating.
Wear wide brim hats and sunglasses
Sit under an umbrella or shade tree
Wear loose fitting clothes that provide maximum coverage of exposed skin.
Drink plenty of fluids.

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